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Process industry automation users dissatisfied with production management strategies Today's automation users — regardless of vendor — are simply not getting the high-quality, in-context information needed to improve performance, make informed business decisions, and effectively manage risks, according to a recent study jointly performed by Invensys and Fieldbus, Inc.


Process industry automation users dissatisfied with production management strategies

Today's automation users — regardless of vendor — are simply not getting the high-quality, in-context information needed to improve performance, make informed business decisions, and effectively manage risks, according to a recent study jointly performed by Invensys and Fieldbus, Inc.

According to those interviewed, while field device-centric asset management strategies can provide a helpful point solution, these ignore the vast majority of installed plant equipment. Equipment-centric asset management strategies, on the other hand, are often not well integrated with either intelligent field devices or the plant automation systems. Careful analysis of the many interviews conducted indicates that.

"Our big concern is that we get too much data, but we don't know what to do with it, and we sure don't have the time to go through it all," commented one of the users surveyed.

"Today's process manufacturer's have been put in the position where they have had to significantly reduce their internal resources to maintain profitability," said Mike Caliel, president of Invensys Process Systems. "This situation is exacerbated by the steady loss of their most experienced personnel through retirement. The net result is that, in today's tough regulatory environment, plant managers are very much concerned with their personal accountability in the event that something preventable goes wrong. This puts additional pressure on automation vendors to be able to provide the products and services that our customers require to maximize their assets in an efficient, safe, and environmentally responsible manner."

The Invensys-sponsored study, conducted from June through August 2003, involved direct, face-to-face interviews with almost 70 plant managers, engineers, maintenance supervisors, and instrument technicians at 21 world-class process manufacturing organizations in North America and Europe. Industries represented included chemicals, oil and gas, power generation, pharmaceuticals, and food and beverage. The interviews were conducted independently by Invensys and Fieldbus Inc. personnel.

"When you consider the complexity and scale of modern process manufacturing facilities, which can include massive process units outfitted with a variety of rotating and stationary equipment, plus large numbers of pumps, valves, motors, and field devices — both intelligent and nonintelligent — it's amazing that today's 'downsized' plants operate as well as they do," commented Sasan Goodarzi, who is responsible for marketing, R&D and manufacturing for the products organization of Invensys Process Systems. "Certainly, modern intelligent field devices, fieldbus-based automation systems, safety systems, condition monitoring systems, enterprise asset management systems, and modeling and optimization software, represent important elements in an overall production management strategy. However, the key is to be able to combine these technologies — plus new services — into a cohesive solution that provides users with the information they need, when they need it, and in the appropriate context."

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Comment: Lazy communications

I read the September column on lazy communications. The topic of email abuses is not new, but this particular subject is one of my pet peeves. I hope that people take notice — especially the vendors. I too tend to delete any email that has an attachment that I didn't ask for — you can't be too safe these days. If you write about email abuses again, another of my all-time most irritating pet peeves is the abuse of the distribution lists. I regularly get email from people I don't even know because they send their vacation notice to all users in the email system. While that probably doesn't sound like a big deal, we have a large site with many users. As the scale goes up, the internal "spam" goes up dramatically.— John P. Bayles


The proposed Solution shown in "Hello Dolly" in the September 2003 issue of PLANT ENGINEERING has severe limitations. Due to the drum resting on the top section of the pipes, it is not practical to use this dolly as created if you wish to move the drum in question more than one length of the dolly in either direction. The way it is shown and described, the drum will "move" in the same direction that the dolly is pushed and roll off the rollers provided within moving one length of the dolly on the floor.

An improvement would be to weld two additional 1- Michael J. Lembo

I have found that most manufacturing facilities have some unused static conveyors around, and you can cut out a section large enough to fit your drum, then flip it over, and bolt Ed Arnold

Plant engineers, harmonics, and articles

Seldom does it occur that one can hit on two important topics within one issue of a magazine.

PLANT ENGINEERING has accomplished this with an article on treating plant engineers with some amount of noticeable attention ("Comment," Oct 2003, p 10) and with Jack Smith's article "Basics of how to minimize harmonics" (Oct 2003, p 50).

Plant engineers, in my lifetime, have always been cut first and rewarded last. The fact that you, through your article, have suggested to industry that it takes notice of its treatment of plant engineering personnel before they are lost to other industries is a professional step in the right direction — and a helpful one for both parties.

Mr. Smith's article on harmonics accomplished the impossible. It mentioned 99% of the concepts of power system harmonics in just three pages. It was also good that he did not beat to death any one particular technical topic. The topic was mentioned and left to the readers with awareness to research it as deep as they might desire. This was a good finesse. It brought the subject of active filters to my attention.

Thanks again for your excellent magazine.— Gerald Hajek, HAJEK Consulting Services, Naperville, IL

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